Psyops during a time of war can be an important part of any military operation. But after 9/11, the Bush Administration kicked the military psyops folks into a sort of hyper gear.
The NYTimes has a great piece on one unit in Fayetteville, NC, that does television and other journalistic reports for the US. And it makes for an unsettling, if not completely Orwellian, read.
"We call our stuff information and the enemy's propaganda," said Col. Jack N. Summe, then the commander of the Fourth Psychological Operations Group, during a tour in June. Even in the Pentagon, "some public affairs professionals see us unfavorably," and inaccurately, he said, as "lying, dirty tricksters."According to the NYTimes, Pentagon documents show that the Lincoln Group planted more than 1000 stories in Arab media outlets around the world. And it isn't just the Lincoln Group paying for stories -- the Army's psyops folks say they have issued payments as well to newspapers for running unattributed news pieces.
The recent disclosures that a Pentagon contractor in Iraq paid newspapers to print "good news" articles written by American soldiers prompted an outcry in Washington, where members of Congress said the practice undermined American credibility and top military and White House officials disavowed any knowledge of it. President Bush was described by Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser, as "very troubled" about the matter. The Pentagon is investigating.
But the work of the contractor, the Lincoln Group, was not a rogue operation. Hoping to counter anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world, the Bush administration has been conducting an information war that is extensive, costly and often hidden, according to documents and interviews with contractors, government officials and military personnel.
The campaign was begun by the White House, which set up a secret panel soon after the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate information operations by the Pentagon, other government agencies and private contractors.
One has to wonder how much of this has WHIG and OSP fingerprints. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if a light dusting showed a full complement of prints from all sides.
How much of this has Karen Hughes written all over it? How does this sit with her new position at State -- a job that requires her to have a working, trusting relationship with other nations? Nothing like a little propoganda machine to put the trust in a relationship, now is there?
Orwell wouldn't be shocked at all.
(Graphics love to Indiboi. And a big hat tip to reader Wilson for the link to the NYTimes article.)
UPDATE: Jeralyn has more.